The many aspects of being a keeper

According to one of our blog polls (to the left of the screen), some of our readers are interested in learning more about life as a keeper. Many of our previous posts give an inside look at the sorts of things we do, such as operant conditioning with Max’s red bucket training, preparing for emergencies by staging a fake black bear escape, and outlining the tools we use when working with venomous snakes.

We also post videos and stories about the funny things our animals do that the visitors often times don’t see, like Wendy the thief who stole invoices from Sherry’s office, and red wolf #1390’s humorous interactions with a fake enrichment animal, as well as watching bears scramble around for food when it’s suppertime in the bear house (with Virginia’s after-dinner bath, too!).

You can also find posts about the difficult aspects of being an animal keeper, such as working in harsh weather conditions, the mishaps that can occur when working by yourself on holidays, and the sadness that is felt when dealing with the loss of an animal.

But in case those stories are not what you’re looking for, I asked the keepers some questions that would best explain how they feel about their job. One of Katy’s favorite things about being a keeper is the experiences with the animals. She really enjoys hearing our barred owls hooting in the morning when she’s the only one around, and gets laughs out of watching Mimi the bear put freshly cut grass in her mouth and then throw it all over herself.

Jill really likes the diverse group of animals she works with, which is different from the way larger zoos operate (read divisions of labor to learn more). Kristen finds amusement with the instinctive flinch she has when she is holding a mouse with the tongs and the rattlesnake strikes at it, even though she knows she is perfectly safe. My personal favorite is when I get to hold our (sedated) red wolves while they are having their annual physicals. I love the feeling I get knowing that I am holding one of the rarest animals in the world!

Stay tuned for future posts as I discuss the keepers’ least favorite aspects of the job, and share with you their tips on how to decide if this profession is right for you.

5 responses to The many aspects of being a keeper

  1. Avatar
    Leslie says:

    Great post, Marilyn! I’ve put a link to it on the Job Opportunities page for the Museum. I get a lot of questions about being an animal keeper, so this post will be a good resource for those wanting to know more about the job.

  2. Avatar
    Jeff Stern says:

    I would love to see Mimi covering herself with freshly cut grass. Perhaps this is a future video post?Congrats again to the blogging team for surpassing the 100-post mark!

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    maisyarawati says:

    if i am not US citizen,can i working in your places???
    Thank you

  4. Sherry Samuels
    Sherry Samuels says:

    People can work at the Museum of they are US citizens or have appropriate working papers/work visas from other countries.
    Contact our Human Resources department to get details.

  5. Avatar
    Summer Wadsworth says:

    Can you tell me what kind of education someone needs to follow in order to work as an animal keeper? Thank you in advance.

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